Sunday, March 29, 2020

Science From Home 3-30 to 4-3

Hi Everybody, 

I'll keep doing the daily science story at 11AM EDT at facebook.com/kmfolta.  

This week:

Monday






Tuesday


Wednesday


Thursday



Friday



Tuesday, March 24, 2020

No Ventilator for You!

Today the New England Journal of Medicine predicted that we will fall woefully short of ventilators to treat COVID19 patients. Using the data from Italy and the rate of growth in the States, it is estimated that there will be need for 1.4 to 31 people per available ventilator.  Tough decisions will have to be made. 

That's why I'm starting the hash tag #NoVentilatorForYou.  And here is the first charlatan that should be denied access. They also should be arrested and jailed for life.   

On Instagram the account @mypronatural is selling concoctions with the clear implicit goal of treating SARS-COV2.  This is pure profiteering off of a crisis, lining pockets with false health claims that will endanger lives and burden the health care system. 

I motion that when we have to make decisions about who has access to the limited ventilators, the folks behind this campaign move to the back of the line
Do I hear a second?

At least report them on Instagram.  I did.  It did nothing. 


Let's look at some of the things on their website (all photos, click to make bigly): 







3x a day... herbal extract with birch bark, vitamin C, zinc, elderberry extract.  Make sure you update your will. 



Here they make the claim that "Chaga BLOCKS Coronavirus" and makes an argument from authority citing "Harvard Professor" 


This post claims that gargling with Himalayan Pink Salt "eliminates the virus".  They also have a note to buy their "powerful Corona Herbal Extract"



Only made 100, 70 already sold.  Coronavirus Herbal Extract.  "Protects against virus" and "antiviral" they claim.


And here is a post stating that the (toxic) elderberry "prevents the (corona) virus from replicating in the body"


And of course they believe that it all happened because of 5G cell phone service. 


I'm being dead serious.  Tough decisions may have to be made.  If we get to that point, I believe those profiting off of this crisis by putting others in harm's way need to be denied treatment first.  Hand them a bottle of elderberry extract and tell them to hit the bricks. 

It seems callus, and I'm sorry for that.  I'm up at 4 AM plotting on how to educate kids home from school, and get groceries to the elderly in my small town.  Service should be our focus. There are many stories where the crisis has brought out the best in us. 

It disgusts me that crisis also spawns wretched exploitation. This tiny minority should be basted in shame, recognized, penalized, and never allowed to access medical care ahead of someone they deceived. 


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Home School Video Field Trips!

With the closure of schools due to COVID19, it is an opportunity to try new experiments in education. This week I'll be featuring Facebook Live streaming video that students can join from any location.  I'll present topics in science and agriculture for 30 minutes, then stop to answer questions about the topic and about life as a scientist.  We'll also present a diversity of guests that will show their work. 

I'll gear the lessons for grades 3-6, but all ages are welcome.  I'll be glad to answer questions afterward until there are no more! 

11 AM EST at my professional Facebook page

This week:

3/23    Plants and Light





3/24    Plant Grafting:  How and Why




3/25    From Egg to Goose (we'll look at live goose eggs as they develop)




3/26    No More Oranges?   The race for a cure for the citrus disease



3/27   Crop Domestication - Where did Fruits and Veggies Come From? 


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Bogus Hand Sanitizers

As anticipated, bogus and dangerous crackpot cures have been bubbling up during the recent COVID-19 outbreak.   We know that hand hygiene is important at this time, and that soap and water are superior to all other methods of virus suppression on your hands. Period. 

Of course, there are those that shun the offerings of Big Soap and delve into the alchemy cabinet to devise a magical virus shield. Sadly, the folks that shun science and technology in a medical parlance certainly appreciate the technology of the computer, and are glad to share their shaman's crappy guidance with the world. 

As a guy that hangs at farmers markets and has some crunchy online friends, I am seeing too much quackery.  The majority state that homemade hand sanitizers can be made from various ingredients found in any respectable commune's infirmary. 



At least you'll have supple, sweet smelling hands in the casket.



If you don't want to construct your own, or if local witches went to Whole Foods and bought all the witch hazel, you can buy pre-made sanitizers.  The internet abounds with multi-level marketing companies using the COVID19  situation to peddle their nostrums. There is no reliable evidence of efficacy against the virus.  Yet the claims abound. 


Nothing like taking advantage of a health crisis to promote bad science.  The Essential Oil Blend to "keep you virus free"


I've lived my entire life without essential oils, meaning that they are actually optional oils.  Sadly there are many out there profiting heavily by scaring people on one hand, and selling them an alleged remedy with the other.  Here's a beauty...

SOLD OUT!  at forty-five bucks for a two pack.  Foaming Hand Wash is a fancy name for "soap"

The bottom line is that it takes soap and water to wash your hands, and ethanol or isopropanol can do a good job at disinfecting if applied at over 60%.  That means the claims of DIY solutions with vodka (at 40%) are DOA, which is bad news for the non-GMO vodka folks over at Smirnoff. 

Right now it is time for the science minded to dial up their game and communicate the evidence-based information to the public. Part of this responsibility means calling out dangerous trends and fake cures and false prophylaxis.  As in any crisis, virus carpetbaggers will seek to separate the fearful from their cash, and it is up to us to provide a durable information shield. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Talking Biotech #230 - A Deep Dive on COVID19

As of 3/11/2020 COVID-19 is emerging as a significant health threat worldwide.  This pandemic is on the rise, and public health suffers from politicized spin, misinformation, and a lack of good information.  This episode is targeted to the Talking Biotech listener that can connect with family and friends, sharing the facts of this outbreak.   Today's guest is Dr. ChubbyEmu, the YouTube physician that has been at ground zero in discussing the coronavirus outbreak.  We dig a layer deeper into the disease, its physical manifestations, and the current state of the disease as it spreads into the USA.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Talking Biotech #229 - A Universal Influenza Vaccine


Seasonal influenza causes thousands of deaths annually.  Part of the problem is that the vaccine must be administered annually because the virus presents different immunological faces to avoid detection.  Dr. Peter Palese is a pioneer in studying the molecular biology of the influenza viruses.  Today he and colleagues are on a quest to identify a universal flu vaccine that would provide one-time durable immunity.  We discuss the strategies and progress toward this public health milestone.




Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Talking Biotech #228 - Improved Oils from Plants with GE


Plants produce a variety of oils, many that are critical to the human diet.  The precise chemical qualities of plant oils dictate its stability, use, nutrient quality, or even its use as fuel.  Dr. Surinder Singh is an expert in plant oils at CSIRO, the Australian National Research Laboratory.  His laboratory has been working on projects in a variety of crops to improve the oil quality for human nutrition, but also as a potential fuel.  Such efforts provide a renewable and more sustainable source of valuable oils, taking pressure off of fisheries and carbon-intensive practices.


Listen to this week's podcast here